It’s all but confirmed that the next-generation Apple iPad, perhaps dubbed the ‘iPad 3’, will have a quad-core processor, Retina-like high resolution display, and support 4G LTE networks; the news sourced from Apple’s manufacturing partners have lent new credence to the speculation.
According to Bloomberg, Apple parts suppliers are already pushing production for a March release, which matches Apple’s past launch timeframes for the original iPad and iPad 2.
Just like its rivals that are turning to more powerful processors, the iPad 3 will sport a quad-core chip, similar to the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor found in the ASUS Transformer Prime and other high-end Android tablets. The iPad 2 currently runs from a less powerful dual-core Apple A4 1GHz processor. The added horsepower will be used to run more potent apps and support a great screen resolution, perhaps a Retina-style display found on the iPhone 4 and 4S.
The original iPad and iPad 2 have a 9.7-inch screen with a 1024 x 768 screen resolution for approximately 132 pixels per inch (ppi). Many new quad-core tablets revealed at CES 2012 will have a 1920 x 1200 resolution for a ppi count of 224 on a 10.1-inch unit. The Apple iPhone 4 and 4S, along with many high-end Android smartphones pack as many as 300+ ppi, which is near the limit the human eye can discern, according to image experts.
Also, like many high-end smartphones, the iPad 3 will support LTE 4G data networks, according to the report, like those offered by Verizon, AT&T, and soon Sprint. No iPhone model currently supports that standard. Speculation suggests Apple did not bring 4G LTE to the iPhone 4S due to the battery concerns that have plagued early 4G smartphones. However, since the iPad will have a larger battery, those concerns have been discounted for the bigger Apple device. As a result of the 4G support and higher screen resolution, the new iPad may be a few millimeters thicker than the iPad 2, which is just 8.6mm (.34-inches) thin.
Apple is also aware of the creeping competition in the form of low-cost brand-name Android tablets, and may keep the iPad 2 on the market with a reduced price to combat the $200 Amazon Kindle Fire and $250 NOOK Color, according to earlier rumors.